Women of the Channel Winter Workshop 2014: Day 2 Report from the Field

she421ex.52616_mdTop Channel Executives Address Today’s Program Challenges and Priorities

By Allison Watters

Day 2:  The Women of the Channel Winter Conference is in session in New York City this week and there is much to report.   There are many Move the Channel Members presenting and attending this exciting sold out event.  For the Move the Channelfolks unable to attend….   Reporting from the conference is Allison Watters, a valued member and contributor to Move the Channel.   Allison is alsoRelayware’s director of global communications and has been in technology communications for nearly 15 years serving companies of all sizes that work with the channel.

Allison Writes:  On the second day of the Women of the Channel winter workshop, five top channel executives got on stage to discuss the challenges and priorities for today’s channel, providing the audience with insight as well as  comfort that everyone is facing the same issues.


  • Pam Johansen, Sr. Director, Worldwide Channel Operations, BMC Software
  • Paula Gil, Director of Partner Programs, CA
  • Penny Philpot, Group VP, OPN Program & Worldwide Partner Services, Oracle
  • Tricia Atchison, Sr. Director, RTM & Channel Marketing, Symantec

Right out of the gate moderator Lisa MacKenzie from The Channel Company asked  the panelists about the biggest issues they are facing in the channel today. A common thread was the change of pace in the industry, which is faster today than it ever has been. These executives understand that many of their channel partners are small- and medium-sized businesses and cannot waste resources abruptly rerouting their strategy. These executives say they are working to help partners plan quarter by quarter as one way they are working to address the balance between the face past of the technology industry and the steady strategy partners need.

These executives also acknowledged that there are significant difference between their big partners and smaller partners, and it is challenging to keep the entire community afloat taking into account the varied needs. They are always considering the most effective segmentations as well as different motivating factors for partners.

When asked by an audience member specifically about the impact cloud services is having on how technology vendors are addressing their partner programs, the panelists cited Gartner Vice President and Distinguished Analyst Tiffani Bova.

Bova has segmented partners into those that are product-heavy, those that sell some cloud services with application programming interfaces and development work, and those that are “born in the cloud.”

Philpot said that vendors must be able to work with partners in all three of these groups. Atchison also reiterated the point stating that VARs will not be left behind in this evolution.

When asked where these executives look for information, they said they highly value the information and insight that comes from data, and they reach out directly from their partners, including surveys and conversations. They also keep pace with information through industry trade outlets as well as talking to analysts.

Next, MacKenzie asked the women what aspects they would include if they had to build a partner program from scratch and what they would eliminate.

Symantec’s Atchison astutely said, “Complexity is not your friend. Partners do not like complexity.” She also recommended figuring out the balance of investment in different partners and working to get that right. As with all of their answers, she once again reiterated the importance of going back to the partner community to get their feedback.

Gil from CA also echoed partner collaboration and making sure that everyone in the chain is focused on serving the best interests of the customer every day with every action.

Philpot with Oracle said that the best partner programs are built taking specialization into account, and Johansen agreed. She went on to say “One size does not fit all.”

Additionally, BMC’s Johansen reminded the audience that the most productive partner programs have leadership support with the appropriate resources. “If you don’t have support, it’s not worth building the program. Also, it takes a lot of money. If you don’t have the money, then don’t do it (build a partner program).”

This was only one of the many sessions at the Women of the Channel winter workshop that offered attendees valuable perspectives. If you weren’t able to attend, The Channel Company is planning Women of the Channel West conference in 2015.


About Allison:

AllisionAllison Watters (@aawatters), Relayware’s director of global communications, has been in technology communications for nearly 15 years serving companies of all sizes that work with the channel. As a marketer, she pays close attention to industry trends and the business realities, and this is the lens through which she consumes and processes information.

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